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A strange case, Nirvana. Massive and magnificent in so many ways, creators of huge music, and the epitome of 90′s grunge rock music. But do today’s Millennial teens even care about their influential impact of their shadow?
The Fine Brothers showed their group of teens a slew of classic Nirvana music videos to see just how they would react.
From Spin Magazine:
In April of 1992, Nirvana had topped Billboard, scored a platinum record, appeared on the cover of SPIN, and were being held without bail for instigating some sorta slouchy, shruggy, shouty sea-change in American popular culture. But, as legend has it, frontman Kurt Cobain didn’t actually realize he’d “made it” until Yankovic lovingly satirized their biggest hit. In Yankovic’s hands, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” became “Smells Like Nirvana,” a song about the hilarious reality that the supposed voice of a generation was actually impossible to understand beyond a groaned bargle nawdle zouss. Yankovic seizing the moment was not only fortuitous for Nirvana, but Weird Al experienced one of the biggest of many “comebacks,” scoring his biggest chart hit since “Eat It,” and ultimately retaining his jester’s throne for another 20 years and counting (all recently documented in the coffee table tome Weird Al: The Book). The whole “Nirvana” ordeal was even dramatized in the 19th season of The Simpsons, when Homer’s grunge band Sadgasm got a Weird Al parody of their own.
“Weird Al” Yankovic: It was hard on my vocal chords. In the studio, oftentimes I’ll be singing for eight to 12 hours a day. And when you’re doing a song like “Smells Like Nirvana,” that’s a lot of screaming. Try screaming for 12 hours and see where that gets you. It’s tough on the vocal chords. I do have a memory of there actually being cookies in my mouth when I did the “bargle nawdle zouss,” unintelligible-mumble thing. I wish I could remember the brand. Some kind of Hawaiian Fig Newton, some kind of weird, off-brand exotic cookie.
Jay Levey, manager and video director: With the “Nirvana” video, all the stars aligned. We were able to track down and book the same soundstage. The soundstage, in essence, is four bare walls, so you could be in any soundstage and not know it was the one. But from a karmic standpoint, it was pretty heavy to be in the exact same place where they shot theirs. The vast majority of the fans in the bleachers were from the original Nirvana video. And the janitor, of course, was also the original janitor. I don’t know that he even knew a thing about Nirvana. I believe he was a real janitor.
Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz, drums: Skating legend Tony Hawk was one of the kids in there.
Levey: Who knew at the time, right?
Yankovic: We got a couple of the same cheerleaders.
Levey: [Securing those details] was nothing more than talking to the folks who produced the Nirvana video. They were totally helpful because they knew that Kurt was on board. I will say with the extras, it was really quite poignant and moving in a way because those kids had a deep, deep connection with Kurt and with Nirvana. The seismic waves that Kurt and that band had created in pop culture, and in music, can’t begin to be understated. Their vulnerability and their hesitation was palpable in the room, but they knew that Kurt was on board with this.
Yankovic: Dick Van Patten was an 11th-hour addition. We wanted a random celebrity, and on the day of the shoot, we were like, “Does anyone know a random celebrity?” And someone knew Dick Van Patten.
Read the read of the story at Spin Magazine
At the recent Bonhams Entertainment Sale, the auction house sold a handwritten Nirvana setlist for £5,625 (approximately $9,566). The setlist, which sold after a heated battle between two bidders, was written in black marker-pen by drummer Dave Grohl and was taped near Kurt Cobain’s mic stand during the band’s 1991 performance in Glasgow, Scotland.
The setlist also still contains dirty footprints where Cobain may have stood. Many classics are listed on the paper—“Lithium,” “Teen Spirit,” “Come As You Are,” “All Apologies” and more. You can read a full description and check out an image of the setlist below.
“Other notable lots included a Nirvana handwritten set list which sold for £5,625 after a battle between two telephone bidders. The set list, written in black marker-pen by Dave Grohl, was taped to the stage by Kurt Cobain’s mic stand during a Nirvana performance in Glasgow in 1991 and is complete with dirty footprints from the sole of a trainer along the bottom edge where Cobain possibly stood. According to the vendor who was at the Glasgow concert, at the end of the gig he asked a member of Security for the set list which the guard ripped from the stage next to Kurt’s mic stand.”
From Boing Boing:
The Nirvana re-issue of “In Utero” was the twenty year anniversary of your now-famous Baffler article “The Problem With Music” Did the drive to write it stem from witnessing the post-Nevermind major label feeding frenzy which was consuming so many indie bands?
Absolutely. There was a feeding frenzy, where major labels were signing anything holding a guitar, and within the community of the underground there was quite a debate on how to deal with the situation. Some people thought the industry could be taken advantage of — swindled essentially — and that bands could use the resources of the industry for their own agenda. This was a rationale used by bands who wanted to maintain their self-respect while still having a rockstar experience. They were flattered that they had been given the opportunity, but it would be unseemly to embrace it, so they adopted a cynical angle for cover. I wanted to make the case that the labels operated exclusively in their own best interest, that their agents’ participation in the culture was purely driven by accumulating power, money and influence within the industry, and that everyone involved knew how to use the ambitions and vanity of the bands as leverage for their own ends. Most importantly, the industry didn’t care if occasionally a band had to be destroyed to keep the system in place, since bands are considered a bulk commodity. The industry is no longer what it was, so much of what I wrote is meaningless in specifics now, but at the time it was a trajectory I saw executed many times.
It used to be that the music industry was synonymous with the record industry, but now selling physical records is a very small part of the world’s use for music, and all those people who secured their positions within the record industry did so to little long-term effect. Most of them are real estate agents or doing PR for startups or selling macrame on Etsy or something. It’s only people who were honestly participating in the culture who are still at it.
This is great! Nice one, DJ not-I.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will unveil a new exhibit highlighting the 2014 Inductees and air the 2014 Induction Ceremony on HBO on Saturday, May 31. Honored this year are Peter Gabriel, Daryl Hall and John Oates, KISS, Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, the E Street Band, Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham.
Included in the exhibit:
• Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein’s diaries
• Contracts and other documents related to Andrew Loog Oldham’s management of the Rolling Stones
• Clothing and instruments from the E Street Band, including the tenor saxophone played by Clarence Clemons on the Born the Run album and the guitar played by Steven Van Zandt in the “Glory Days” video.
• A Peter Gabriel costume prop worn at the 1993 Grammy Awards
• Cape and boots worn by Peter Criss of KISS during publicity events and photo sessions while promoting KISS’ Dynasty tour.
• Clothing and various items from Nirvana, including a Dave Grohl handwritten setlist, a Kurt Cobain handwritten note, and a Kurt Cobain knit cap and cardigan sweater.
• A jacket worn by Linda Ronstadt on the cover of her 1978 album Back In the U.S.A.
• The guitar Cat Stevens played during his performance at the 2014 Induction Ceremony
• Guitars from Daryl Hall and John Oates.
The 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will air on HBO on Saturday, May 31 at 8pm ET/PT. Held at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York on April 10, this year’s ceremony featured appearances by Chris Martin, Glenn Frey, Michael Stipe, Questlove, Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Lorde, Kim Gordon, St. Vincent, Joan Jett, Peter Asher, Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris, Tom Morello and Sheryl Crow.
The 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee exhibit will remain open through 2014.
Seattle music was decidedly underground when Jonathan Poneman began. “Punk rock was a grass-roots rebellion against the stodgy star system of the music industry of the ’70s and ’80s, very consolidated and oligarchical,” he says. “In isolated regions, like Seattle, before there was an Internet, touring bands were the lifeline for music fans, who didn’t have access to record stores or radio. Big touring bands would get substantial advances and tour support from big labels, but punk bands couldn’t make enough to pay for gas to get here.” When early Seattle star Duff McKagan came back to Seattle for a show with his then-unknown new band Guns N’Roses, they had to borrow all their equipment from Sub Pop band The Fastbacks.
“The label was always a collaborative endeavor,” said Poneman. “It wasn’t driven by profit but by social relevance and creativity. It was a social network long before Facebook and Instagram. Inspired by Motown, Chess, Stax, Atlantic, Sire, all these indie labels with a decided regional bent, Bruce and I were interested in taking snapshots of the various music scenes across the country, reflecting the consciousness of the people, the musical identity of the communities. I think that still happens, because rock and roll and hip hop are social media. They ferment and become potent through social interaction.
“Live music can never be replaced, because it’s the essence of what makes the culture blossom and have a vital impact on society as a whole,” Poneman continued. “Because it’s participatory. Sub Pop in the 21st century is trying to wed the technical advances that have come to define the music industry. But we’re also maintaining the mission that we establish when we went into business. It’s not a top-down company. I am the co-owner and the boss, but to the extent that the company reflects my image, it does so in being a place where everybody has a voice, everybody gets to contribute.”
Pitchfork: Did it make sense to you that Lorde and St. Vincent were there singing in Nirvana?
CL: Not at first. Initially, I thought it was sexist, and a little bit ghettoizing. But then I was like, “No, Kurt would have loved this.” And there’s reality to it. Apparently, no high profile dudes wanted to do it. It’s interesting, isn’t it? I mean, I don’t know where Lorde is going. I like the St. Vincent girl a lot—I looked at some of her YouTubes and I like her look, her attitude, her whole thing. She was pretty cool, especially for being as nervous as she probably was. But I am telling you—the Kim Gordon moment was so punk. Kim gave the punkest performance, the one that Kurt would’ve approved of the most. It was the punkest thing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has ever seen. I was really proud of that.
She came out wearing a striped mini-dress and did this total panty-roll on the floor. She rocked it. It was totally flat. I swear to god, I was watching [Rolling Stone and Rock Hall founder] Jann Wenner’s table, and their jaws were on the floor, because everything had been so in-tune all night. [laughs] It was truly a celebration of the spirit of what was subversive about In Utero and [Steve] Albini, and what remains punk about Nirvana. Me and Kim, we’re not BFFs, but I was getting my hair done recently, and my hairdresser said, “Kim Gordon was asking how you were, she said to tell you hi.” I was like, “Really? We don’t really talk, but tell her hi.” So we’ve kind of made peace through our hairdresser.
I went to the afterparty and, at that point, I was emotionally drained. There were people in the room who have stolen vast amounts of money from me. I couldn’t have given a shit; I just let it go. Grohl said something good while skirting around the issue of us slamming each other for 20 years: It was just our way of dealing with the carnage we had to deal with. Someone suggested we go into the press room and hug it out, but I was like, “What? Nooo.” We hugged privately. We didn’t whore it out. It was genuine. I had this long speech, which I worked my ass off on, and then I saw it on the teleprompter, and was just like, “Don’t even bother, just get this over with and bury the hatchet.” It wasn’t going to make great television, in terms of oration. I’m not getting a TED Talk because of a Hall of Fame speech, trust me.
Independent stores represented 19.4 percent of all physical albums sold in the week ending April 20 (605,000 of 5.3 million) — likely the highest share of physical albums for the indie sector since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991.
Billboard’s Tastemakers Albums
(chart dated May 3, reflecting sales in the week ending April 20)
1. Green Day, “Demolicious” (Reprise/Warner Bros.)
2. Beck, “Morning Phase” (Fonograf Records/Capitol)
3. Childish Gambino, “Because the Internet” (Glassnote)
4. The Afghan Whigs, “Do To the Beast” (Sub Pop)
5. Notorious B.I.G., “Life After Death” (Bad Boy/Rhino)
6. Various Artists, “The Space Project” (Lefse/Fat Possum)
7. Bruce Springsteen, “American Beauty” (EP) (Columbia)
8. Grateful Dead, “Hampton Coliseum: Friday May 4, 1979″ (Grateful
9. Nas, “Illmatic” (Columbia/Legacy)
10. Jake Bugg, “Live at Silver Platters: Seattle WA, January 20, 2014″ (EP) (Virgin/EMI/Jake Bugg/Island)
Overall vinyl album sales also hit a SoundScan-era high in the week ending April 20, as 369,000 LPs were sold. That easily beats the previous record, logged with 295,000 LPs in the week ending Dec. 22, 2013. (A year ago, RSD helped yield 244,000 vinyl LPs sold in the week ending April 20, 2013.)
Billboard’s Vinyl Albums
(chart dated May 3, reflecting sales in the week ending April 20)
1. Childish Gambino, “Because the Internet” (Glassnote)
2. The Afghan Whigs, “Do To the Beast” (Sub Pop)
3. Notorious B.I.G., “Life After Death” (Bad Boy/Rhino)
4. Bruce Springsteen, “American Beauty” (EP) (Columbia)
5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Live At Monterey” (Experience
6. Grateful Dead, “Hampton Coliseum: Friday May 4, 1979″ (Grateful
7. Tame Impala, “Live Versions” (Modular/Interscope/IGA)
8. Joy Division, “An Ideal For Living” (EP) (Warner UK/Rhino)
9. The Flaming Lips, “7 Skies H3″ (Lovely Sorts Of Death/Warner Bros.)
10. The Ramones, “Meltdown With the Ramones EP” (Sire/Rhino)
In terms of singles sales — a normally dormant retail category — there were 104,000 physical singles sold in the week ending April 20. That’s up 68 percent compared with the haul a year ago (62,000) and up 1,200 percent from the week ending April 13 (8,000).
On the Hot Singles Sales chart, the tally is livened up by RSD, as all 25 titles are affiliated with RSD. (We have excerpted the top 10, below.) The chart is topped by Nirvana’s 7-inch vinyl single “Pennyroyal Tea” (3,000 sold). The single was originally planned to be released in 1994, but was withheld in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death.
Billboard’s Hot Singles Sales
(chart dated May 3, reflecting sales in the week ending April 20)
1. Nirvana, “Pennyroyal Tea” (Sub Pop/Geffen/Interscope)
2. Devo/The Flaming Lips, “Gates of Steel” (Live) (Warner Bros./Rhino)
3. The Cure/Dinosaur Jr., “Just Like Heaven” (Fiction/Elektra/Rhino)
4. David Bowie, “1984″ (Parlophone/Rhino)
5. Love/Rush, “7 and 7 Is” (Elektra/Rhino)
6. Frank Zappa, “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” (Zappa/UMe)
7. Poison Idea/Pantera, “The Badge” (East West/Rhino)
8. Paramore, “Ain’t It Fun” (Fueled By Ramen/RRP)
9. Fleetwood Mac, “Dragonfly” (Reprise/Warner Bros./Rhino)
10. Garbage With Brody Dalle, “Girls Talk” (Stun Volume)
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